The figures are astonishing. There are more than 195,289 registered charities in the UK that raise and spend close to £80 billion a year. Together, they employ more than a million staff – more than our car, aerospace and chemical sectors – and make 13 billion ‘asks’ for money every year, the equivalent of 200 for each of us in the UK.
In England and Wales there are 1,939 active charities focused on children; 581 charities trying to find a cure for cancer; 354 charities for birds; 255 charities for animals, 81 charities for people with alcohol problems and 69 charities fighting leukaemia.
All have their own executives, administrators, fundraisers, communications experts and offices, but few will admit they are doing exactly the same thing as other charities. Take the case of Ethiopia. Two decades ago there were 70 international charities operating there, today the figure is close to 5,000.
A 2013 parliamentary inquiry into the charity sector found there were so many charities that the Charity Commission for England and Wales was struggling to ensure that most registered charities were genuine, rather than tax avoidance schemes or political campaigning groups.
Yes: it's a colossal industry.
Many other charities have also been tempted away from their main focus, into campaigning.
Charities such as Forum for the Future, Friends of the Earth and Green Alliance have been very successful in influencing government policy. Their greatest success was probably in 2008 when the Climate Change Act was passed into law, which by the Government’s own estimate will cost £760 per household every year for four decades.
But many of these charities are funded predominantly by the taxpayer, rather than public donations. Indeed, a number of commentators have identified that many do little in the way of good works, but are actually campaigning organisations or ‘fake charities’.
Yay! As I have said before, this phrase—indeed, this concept of "fake charities"—is my only meaningful contribution to the political conversation (other than coarsening it!).
About 27,000 British charities are dependent on the Government for three quarters or more of their funding. Without Government cash, many would collapse. Nevertheless they spend much of their time and money lobbying the Government rather than doing what most people would consider ‘charitable work’.
Indeed. And, ultimately, whose fault is this disgusting state of affairs? Yes—it's the fault of Saint Tony and his monocular Scottish idiot sidekick, the Gobblin' King.
Britain’s charities haven’t always been so politically active. Until 2004, any form of political lobbying by a charity could only be ‘incidental or ancillary to its charitable purpose’ and could not be a charity’s ‘dominant’ activity.
But it suited the NuLabour government to ensure that its place-men and women were in position to lobby the executive to pass new and ever more draconian laws. Because people might rebel against the idea of government interfering in their private lives.
But—ah!—if charities (who, after all, only exist to do good, eh?) insist that such legislation is required, to save the people from themselves, then it must be a public good. And therefore the laws must be right.
And the charities got their reward—cash. And fuck-tons of it...
Oxfam, for example picked up almost £137 million from taxpayers in Britain and abroad during the last year – 37 per cent of its revenue. Save the Children also got close to £137 million from taxpayers and Christian Aid was given about £39 million – 41 per cent of its funds.
Some charities refer to this money as ‘voluntary income’, though it’s not clear taxpayers would be so generous with donations if they knew how much of their money the charity was already receiving.
It is pretty clear—both from the reaction that Fake Charities got at the time, and in my conversations with people since—that people most certainly would not be so generous. In fact, they would be scandalised.
It's time that it stopped.